The craziness of this busy season sure has made for a lull in the reporting! As per usual, the Patagonia motorcycle riding season full of guided tours and self-guided riders on rental bikes sure has been a good one.
Back in December, Ulli and Andres led a group of riders from Italy, Ireland, and the U.S. on our "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" tour to the "End of the World!" in Argentina. Riders from the U.S. not only had the chance to enjoy one of the most fantastic routes in the world, but they also endured one of the many possible hardships we come across in Patagonia. In this case, one particular section of the Ruta 40 (Route 40) in Argentina had been rained on recently, and had dried to just that perfect density such that it sticks to just about anything. It builds up in the wheels, fenders, etc. and can make for difficult, or nearly impossible riding (not to mention what it can do to a clutch.) Nonetheless, the guys called some of our local friends and got everyone through this section without damaging the bikes. This made for a long day....but they got it done, and it sounds like the riders all agreed it was just one of those funny parts of travel that "makes an adventure."
In January, Eric & Andres hosted an entirely different group of riders from Canada and the U.S. on the same "Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego & Ushuaia!" tour, only this group had much better weather for the trip. (Only 1 day of rain, which is more typical.) In fact, 2 of the bikes were couples riding 2-up as they had done so before back home, and knew they could handle the roughly 50/50 paved vs. non-paved terrain.
Starting in Osorno on BMW F700GS's, F800GS's and R1200GS's, this group also had the time to do more of the rafting, hiking, and other site seeing that Patagonia has to offer. The first rest day allowed for rafting Rio Baker, a highlight for anyone on their first visit. Later on in the trip, a handful of us were able to take a boat ride and hike the Perito Moreno Glacier just west of El Calafate, Argentina. Chipping ice directly from the glacier and pouring a little whiskey over it was an experience many of us will never forget! (Bikes were not involved : )
As I've written about at length before, the scenery in Patagonia is still the same stunning collection of natural beauty it's been for years. The change we do see though is that, each year, there's a little more pavement, a few more new buildings...a new gas station here and there...maybe a few new hotels..... and more people. The inevitable fact is that Patagonia, like much of the rest of the world, is still being "discovered" and as such is growing in popularity.
Relax though, you're still in a position to see this landscape before it's too late. Both Chilean and Argentina Patagonia still have a definite "remoteness" to them, and it's not like we're overwhelmed with traffic or congestion on these trips. (Well, maybe just a few minutes of traffic in a city like Bariloche.) But there are still sections where we go quite a long time without even seeing another car, truck, or person, and it's just "us" out there, enjoying the scenery, the fresh air, the tranquility, along with the challenges the Patagonia hands us.
As hinted at in the opening paragraph, do not wait if you want to ride in Patagonia this coming 2015/16 season (October through April.) As if it's still one of the last "best kept secrets" in the world, still relatively few riders have taken the time to see what we have in Patagonia. The clear majority who have been there and seen the sites we see tend to agree: It's the best riding/route they've ever experienced. Total variety, stunning beauty, cultural experiences, and great food...all combine nicely for a motorcycle trip!